Did Commissioner Leave Door Ajar for Artest?

by Conrad Brunner

February 22, 2005

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
If you'd like to pose a Question of the Day to Conrad Brunner, submit it along with your full name and hometown to Bruno's_mailbag@pacers.com. Brunner’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pacers players, coaches or management.

QUESTION
OF THE DAY

Conrad Brunner

Q. ESPN recently reported in an interview with Commissioner (David) Stern that "Stern said there had been no application for the reinstatement of Ron Artest from his season-long suspension." Granted, the quote may have been taken out of context, but doesn't is seem to imply that he would at least consider such an application? He could have made a more emphatic statement regarding the suspension, but didn't. Is this reading too much into the statement? (From Wade in Indianapolis)

A. The commissioner clearly did not want to discuss the Artest situation during his media availability session during the All-Star Weekend, and his statement made that clear. "I don't want to spend too much time on the Ron Artest matter," he said. "I'm a victim of my own inability to say that I'd like never to say never, but I don't anticipate that there will be an application for reinstatement, and I'm not thinking about the subject now, period."

That doesn't sound like an olive branch to me. It sounds like a commissioner who, in his mind, has laid this particular matter to rest. The Pacers have been operating under the assumption the commissioner will not consider a request for reinstatement for anything other than the beginning of the 2005-06 season and that hasn't changed. Keep in mind, when the commissioner announced Artest's suspension for the remainder of this season and the playoffs, he also said the forward's return next season was not automatic and that he would have to request reinstatement at that time.

Considering how vigorously the league opposed the arbitrator's decision to reduce Jermaine O'Neal's suspension, it doesn't follow that the commissioner would suddenly take a more benevolent approach toward Artest. To do so would set a precedent that would undermine every disciplinary action he takes hereafter.